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Train (Object Lessons)

Train (Object Lessons)

Current price: $14.95
Publication Date: March 6th, 2025
Bloomsbury Academic


Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Triggering severe nostalgia and denoting adventure, mystery, and glamour, the passenger train is still portrayed as the most romantic mode of transportation in history. But what does long-distance travel by train really add up to today? In 2005, after quitting not only a successful museum job, but a profession, writer A. N. Devers bought a 30-day rail pass and circumnavigated the United States (and a bit of Canada), disembarking and visiting over a dozen towns and cities, finding that the passenger car was at once adventure and a nightmare-the promise of self-discovery and renewal via train trip was only a daydream.

Instead she emerged from her 8,111-mile journey with a close view of America's crumbling infrastructure and the decaying communities alongside the tracks. The train, it turns out, is a portal to what might have existed if America's rails hadn't been sold off and bought out.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

About the Author

A. N. Devers is a writer, journalist, editor, and critic based in London, UK. Her writing has appeared in Departures, Fine Books, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Tin House, Bust, and online in LitHub, Lenny, The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Salon, Slate, among many other publications. She is an editor at Longreads and at A Public Space. She received notable mention from Best American Essays in 2011 and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. In 2010 she launched, a website dedicated to literary pilgrimage and a database of writers' houses open to the public around the world